13 Myths About Graphic Design That You Shouldn’t Believe

Graphic design has certainly come a very long way since its advent. And it is still without a doubt, an art form that is constantly evolving. Even so, there are a few myths about graphic design that seem to keep lingering. So we’re going to go ahead and debunk them in this blog. But first a bit more about the history of the discipline.

Graphic design first emerged in the 1920s and since then, it has evolved rather impressively and in leaps and bounds. The term graphic design is said to have been coined by William Dwiggins who was an illustrator and a book designer. He made up the term to describe the work that he did in his printed communication mediums like book designs, typography, illustrations, calligraphy and lettering.

When the 1950s rolled around, the term was in wide use to describe the creation process of a lot of other visual materials too. This included such as posters, street signage, and print ads.

Today, the application of graphic design has expanded far beyond print materials and has moved into the digital realm, as well as the world of virtual reality. 

So why is it important to debunk myths about graphic design?

There are a lot of ways graphic design plays an instrumental role in creating and maintaining a brand. Below are just a few examples:

  • Graphic design helps your brand create a powerful and lasting first impression on customers. 
  • It helps you build credibility for your brand through consistency.
  • Graphic designs help you share complicated information with ease in a simplified manner. 
  • Getting creative with your graphics helps you to effectively keep your competition at bay and stand out. 
  • The right use of graphic design will help you tell the story of your brand and deliver your messages impactfully and with clarity to your audience.

Now let’s take a look at some myths about graphic design

If you have PhotoShop, you are a designer

Well, let’s put it this way. We could all have access to pens, and that still wouldn’t make us all writers. It’s the same logic that applies to this as well. Having access to design software, and knowing the basics, doesn’t quite cut it. As a business, chances are you’ll need a variety of different types of designs. And you’ll need the expertise to execute them well. So if terms like the rule of the thirds, tracking kerning, are about as familiar to you as font and color palette selection, you might want to get some with your designs.

Graphic design is basically just decorating 

When you are designing something for your business, you need to be familiar with best practices, your target audience’s preferences, and the guidelines of the channels/platforms you’ll be using. It’s not simply a matter of making something look nice by adding an effect here or there. Designs need to make complete sense and be cohesive with the brand they represent. For instance, if we think about a brand’s logo, it needs to have design, strategy, and vision incorporated. The design must be done purposefully and align with the brand guidelines.

Graphic design doesn’t require ongoing training

Graphic design continues to evolve over time. But there’s also tons to learn about any given aspect of it. Even if you focused on one type of design, there are countless skills that can be developed. As an employer, if you have an in-house designer you should encourage them to register for courses or workshops, to brush up on new techniques. And if you hire designers, be it as freelancers, or through a subscription like Kimp, be sure to find out which areas your designers specialize in.

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This year, Adobe Max – The Creativity Conference – will be held October 20–22.
Graphic design is easy 

Think again. If you look at some of the iconic logos today like Apple or BMW or even Nike, you will see that their logos are rather simple, and it may lead to the myth that graphic design in itself, is simple. But time and precision rules everything in this kind of job and the simplicity you see comes only after much, much experience has been gained.

You should always try new things with graphic design

Yes, you will need to create, innovate, and invest in graphic design for your brand. But there’s a time and place for this. Once you have your brand’s visual identity and style guide sorted, your designs should consistently follow them. From time to time you can definitely incorporate new elements or experiment, but you’ll want to make sure it’s a calculated risk. In other words, you’ll want to be sure that it’s something that will connect with your audience, but still seem relevant to your brand. In either case be sure to communicate your goals and expectations to your designers, so that they know what to include and what to avoid.

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Designs must always be trendy 

Incorporating trends can certainly help get attention. But you’ve always got to ask yourself if a particular trend makes sense for your brand. Will it complement and amplify what you’re trying to get across? Or will it simply overshadow it? You want to err on the side of things that will amplify your efforts. So keep this in mind when discussing your project with your designers. Otherwise, if you just insist that your designers are always designing according to what’s trendy, you’ll be trapping yourself in a cycle of shallow design. And while shallow design can look good, if it doesn’t actually represent the messages of your brand, why include it? 

Graphic designers know just about everything

Designers know how to do their job, and how to do it well, yes. But that doesn’t mean they know how to read your mind. The best designs are the result of a designer receiving a clear creative brief, and an open flow of communication. If your designer knows that you’re receptive to suggestions and questions about your brief, you’re more likely to have productive conversations, and receive great designs. And even when revisions are required, they’ll be more likely to be in line with what you’re looking for.

Designers have complete control over their design

It may seem like most designers can do whatever they want and that they have complete control over their design. But that is actually not true. Designers have to work within the constraints of their client’s preferences and the possibilities of each particular type of design. For instance, a client may provide a particular design as inspiration for what they would like. And their designer will have to reimagine it using their client’s brand guidelines or brief.

When it comes to the constraints of design types, one example we can consider is that you can’t include the same amount of text and elements in a billboard as you would a flyer. Sure the size may seem like it could allow for it. But the end-use has to be considered. A flyer will be read, at close proximity. A billboard, will be viewed in a matter of seconds or minutes as it’s being passed at a distance. Ultimately, collaboration between a client and their designer brings out the best results for a design.

Graphic design can get you rich, fast
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A Chinese philosopher and military strategist, Sun Tzu, once said that “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” When it comes to your marketing, your graphic design falls under your tactics. And without the right strategies, no amount of beautiful design will get you the results you’re looking for. So be sure that you’re clear on your business and campaign goals when you set out to get your graphic design work done. With a clear strategy in mind, your designer will be able to help you get further, faster with your campaigns.

The customers are always right 

About some things, yes. About everything? Not so much. When it comes to graphic design, a client has an important role to play in guiding the process. But, that said, they will have certain limits based on the possibilities they are aware of. This is where the creativity of your designer can be a huge asset. Be open to hearing their suggestions, and where possible try to carve out some buffer time to go through different versions of a design. This is especially important if you’re requesting a type of design you’ve never gotten done before. There could be constraints you’re not even aware of. Or elements that could make your design look incredible that you’re overlooking.

Revising a design takes just a couple of minutes 

Most of the time, when customers ask for revisions, they wonder why it takes more than a few minutes for the designer to get back to them. It really depends on the revisions being requested. Yes, a text edit can be done relatively quickly. But there are some exceptions – for instance, if you’re looking to add or remove so much text that it alters the design. There could be quite a bit of reworking to do to make sure all of your requirements are met in this case. Another case in which revisions can take longer than anticipated is to resize a design or to provide a digital design for print or vice versa.

Depending on the dimensions of the design and what it needs to be resized or modified for, the layout may change quite a bit. In a world where we don’t just have things like Amazon Prime – we have things like Amazon Prime Now, too – we’re not always used to waiting. But a quick conversation with your designer will help you understand when and why you’ll need to wait for changes.

A logo must always explain exactly what a company does 

Your logo represents your brand and it’s at the heart of your marketing, yes. But it doesn’t need to explain exactly what you do. Your logo should speak to the ethos of your brand. And get across in the simplest way, what you are offering or stand for. This could be as simple as just using your brand’s name.

In fact, today most designers aim to design logos with the end goal of offering better recall value to their customers. Yes, having a unique logo is important, but it shouldn’t be overthought to the point of becoming obscure. For example, if you look at the logos of Apple and Starbucks, you will see that neither one shows what the companies actually do. But through their marketing campaigns, they have consistently built up on their logos. And now at a glance, you associate many different meanings with them.

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Graphic design only entails still images 

GIFs anyone? Graphic design can include a wide range of applications. And in fact, still-frames can be designed for the purpose of animation in videos as well. Oftentimes the limits that we place on graphic design come about just because of a lack of awareness.  GIFs and videos can be used across a wide range of placements including social media and email newsletters, alongside your website. And most graphic designers work on GIFs, graphics for YouTube, carousel ads for social media ads, and the like. So be sure to ask your designers what they can create for you, rather than limiting them to just what you’re aware of.

From myths about graphic design to truths 

We’ve tried to debunk (successfully, we hope) some of the most common myths about graphic design. And we hope that we’ve also reinforced the important place that it holds in your marketing, and in building your brand. So the next time you hear myths about graphic design, be sure to consider whether there’s more to the story. And reach out to your most trusted source on the subject – your designers!